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Weekly COVID-19 Update: ANSI Members Shed Light on UVC and Outdoor Heater Safety


The ANSI Federation and standardization community are stepping up with guidance, resources, and initiatives to support public health, safety, and infrastructure during the COVID-19 outbreak. ANSI is monitoring, sharing, and promoting appropriate news to highlight these efforts. Suggestions for news items may be submitted to [email protected]. All submissions are published at ANSI's discretion.

NEMA, American Lighting Association, and UL Offer Ultraviolet Light Safety Guidance for Manufacturers, Retailers, and Consumers

As consumer Ultraviolet-C (UVC) germicidal devices hit the market amid the pandemic, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has teamed with the American Lighting Association and UL on the publication of a position paper, "Ultraviolet-C (UVC) Germicidal Devices: What Consumers Need to Know." The paper details ultraviolet light device safety risks, with expert information to help manufacturers, retailers, and consumers have a better understanding of UVC devices and the conditions to operate them safely.

UVC radiation is the highest energy portion of the UV radiation spectrum, and can be used to disinfect the air inside air ducts. For decades, UVC radiation has been effectively used to reduce the spread of bacteria, including tuberculosis, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Furthermore, the FDA notes that UVC radiation may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

As NEMA reports, consumer UVC germicidal devices are entering the market rapidly because of an increased demand for sanitizing and germicidal capabilities in the face of COVID-19. But UVC lamps (which produce UVC radiation), also known as "germicidal" lamps, may pose health risks, as any uncontained UVC exposure that is strong enough to kill germs may also be a risk to people, pets, and plants.

"There has been an alarming rise in the availability of consumer-facing ultraviolet germicidal devices that do not effectively contain UVC light and carry very serious risks, including permanent eye, skin, and lung damage," noted Todd Straka, global industry director of the UL lighting division. "This is a major safety issue that urgently needs to be communicated to consumers and potential users of these devices. By teaming up with ALA and NEMA, who also share these concerns, we seek to educate consumers and manufacturers regarding the potential safety risk implications of using UVC light.”

Access the position paper via NEMA's website, available to download.

Other Efforts in UVC amid the Pandemic

In related news, to prioritize the safety of UVC, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) announced in June that it had partnered with the International Ultraviolet Association in an effort to assemble experts in the measurement of ultraviolet C-band emissions to develop American National Standards for the measurement and characterization of UVC device performance.

Furthermore, the IES Photobiology Committee released a committee report in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to explain germicidal ultraviolet (GUV) disinfection. The report focuses on the potential uses of GUV in healthcare facilities, and provides safety precautions regarding residential use. Read the IES report: Germicidal Ultraviolet (GUV) – Frequently Asked Questions (IES CR-2-20-V1).


NFPA Releases Fact Sheet on Outdoor Heater Safety for Businesses, Restaurants, and Schools

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released a new fact sheet, “Outdoor Heater Safety,” which provides guidance and recommendations for the businesses, restaurants, and schools that utilize these appliances in outdoor spaces during COVID-19. The guide provides general safety tips and specifies proper use of propane patio heaters, including safe storage of propane cylinders, as well as electric patio heaters.

“Use of outdoor spaces has served as an effective way for businesses and other groups, and restaurants in particular, to continue operating. As the colder months approach, outdoor heaters are being relied upon to extend outdoor services and activities as long as possible,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “Our goal is to help local code officials work with businesses and groups in their communities to ensure that all activities involving portable outdoor heaters reflect proper safety precautions and considerations.”

Access the fact sheet on NFPA's website.

See more ANSI member efforts in the ANSI COVID-19 Resource Webpage Highlighting Standardization Community Response


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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